I stepped off the plane on Wednesday afternoon, into the airport with all the other bustling travelers who couldn't wait to get back to wherever they were going. I went out curbside from baggage claim, excited to see Mark's face again after 5 days gone. The rain was falling, the sky was the color of non-color. What you would imagine nothingness to look like. Man, why didn't I just stay in San Francisco? I wondered this for two whole days after getting back from my trip. Why don't I live there, after wanting to live in San Francisco for almost ten years? I moped around the house, longing for the 75 degrees and sunshine I left behind. I remember where I left it, on the table, streetside at Cole Coffee (drip coffee by the cup, ground and made to order!) in Berkeley.
More of this please
I looked out the window, at the relentless downpour that happened all day Thursday. I convinced myself, with no small amount of guilt after finding our perfect place in West Seattle, that I wanted to move to San Fran ASAP. Those five days were the dreamed-for balance of fun, exercise, food, wine, fun, and rest. For just five days I left behind the chill and the wet, the worries of my life, and entered into a vibrant summertime - removed from place and time. I left a little bit of my serious self behind in Seattle, and had a taste of freedom in the sunshine. The company I kept left me little time to slip back into that serious gal... there was too much laughter going on.Carly and Adi, Caro and me - we were the fabulous foursome (and truly have been since college.) See photo below for proof. I'm the fabulous one behind the camera.
The weekend began, after gushing over our bride-to-be Carly and her wedding dress at a fitting , by having Dim Sum in Chinatown. How long has it been since I've sat down and had numerous little plates of hot food shoved in my face? Well, too long. This was just a foreshadowing for all the good food to come that weekend. We had all kinds of little things that all rhymed with or sounded like Chow. That was good enough for me. The Chinese broccoli was delicious, with a sweet sauce and a sheen of oil that had us all flipping the slippery stems into midair with our plastic chopsticks. Hm, plastic chopsticks. That's classy.
After lunch we walked and walked, stopping in so many shops in Chinatown. I bought sunglasses and a scarf for a song. Adi bought her first box of Pocky with encouragement from Caro and I, the Pock-aholics. By late afternoon we somehow, strangely and through absolutely no fault of our own wandering tourist legs, ended up in Ghirardelli Square. What to do? I staunchly refused to participate in the grotesque American obsession with sundaes as large as minivans (another grotesque American habit) and milkshakes that rival the ounce-age of a 7-Eleven Big Gulp. As my travelling partners decided to load up on dairy fat and government subsidized high fructose whatever, I sat there self-righteously, pious and disapproving as a concerned parent while they relished the sweetness of cold mint and espresso chip milkshakes on a hot day. Okay, I'm totally lying. I broke down immediately and dug my spoon into that milkshake in front of Carly. It was sooooo good. Stolen bites always taste better. I could never finish one all by myself anyway.
The only way to end this day was with a few more decadent bites. If you haven't done the Berkeley restaurant scene, then I would highly recommend it. I personally wanted to hit that mecca Chez Panisse, but thought better of it after reminding myself of a student's budget limitations. Instead, we headed to A Cote. I cannot imagine a place with more attention to detail and flavor in the smallest of dishes (and they were small). We probably had just as much wine as we did food. The Basque sheep's milk cheese of Ossau Iraty is always a favorite of mine... but I think the $8 all went toward the pile of nuts in the middle.
Now, on to Sonoma. What else can I say? If I try to say anything at all about the rolling hills of vines and the sun-kissed landscape it will all sound trite. I'll let the pictures do the talking. Me and wine? We get along.
On Sunday morning, Caro and Adi had to say goodbye, leaving Carly and I a few more days of visiting. So what did we do? We made soup. The Berkeley farmer's market on Sunday lent a helping hand. In went mixed dried beans, carrots and squash, kale and generous pinches from a million little tins of Spice Mix This and Spice Mix That tucked into the deep recesses of Carly and fiance Mike's kitchen cabinets. Mike opened up a bottle of wine nabbed from the corner store, and we called it dinner.
Monday I headed out to the Ferry Building to do some food tourism on my own. What a carnival of delicacies, smells and pretty little things to buy. Didn't buy the pretty little pig parts.
My last stop before heading home was to take care of a bit of friend business still left undone. Eric + Mara + Food + Wine = memories always. This equation has never let me down. I've known Eric for a long time, through thick and thin we've been friends. Mara his girlfriend is a new friend - but what a pair we are! She too is one of those people who stirs her big pot of vegetables slowly, with quiet reverence. She too gets excited when discussing nutrition stuff and detox stuff and ways to eat to complement your yoga practice. What a gem. So glad they found each other. So we had Indian food at Roti near Twin Peaks. Check it out.
A bit blurry... must have been the wine
For us, eating is a thoughtful sort of activity
So now? I'm back. The clouds and rain have been swept away finally. The sun is shining in Seattle and it's 73 degrees here in West Seattle today. I guess I'll stay. I guess I'll stay right here in my life, for now. I pledge, after 5 days of leaving it all behind, to approach things a little differently in the sunshine of Spring. I'll hold onto that feeling of freedom - because it was always there to begin with.
Sheesh, that San Fran does it to me every time.